A few months ago I attended the Pacific Union Conference Ministerial Meetings in Ontario, CA.. While there I attended a seminar by Pastor Carlton Byrd has in the very near past become the speaker/director of Breath of Life Ministries and also just recently became the new Senior Pastor of the Oakwood University Seventh-day Adventist Church in Hunstville, Alabama.
I attended the seminar because I wanted to learn from Pastor Byrd, not about preaching, which he is a great preacher, but about how wherever he has gone his churches has grown (yes I know part of that has to do with great preaching)? I believe it was last year at the church he is now transferring from Berean Church that they baptized 800 folk. Their membership is now 4077 people, they have three sevices, they have a closed circuit feed into their basement for the overflow of folk, and all of this without being attached to a Seventh-day Adventist school of higher education (in the United States our mega-churches have typically only existed next to our colleges).
So I was curious…people come to your church for great preaching, but 800 in one year don’t get baptized without first of all the Spirit of God, but secondly some intentionality.
The following are the notes I took. I didn’t edit them or pick and choose what I thought was great or not. I am simply sharing with you the thoughts I wrote down from him in this seminar.
“I’ve never had a vision for ministry I could afford; If I did, it wouldn’t be from God.”
“Do good (pardon my English) just to do good and God will bless you.”
“If worship is to contribute to the growth of your church, three things must be true:
- Members can’t wait to attend
- Members are proud to bring their friends
- Whoever attends is eager to attend again
“The greatest advertisement for your church is word of mouth.”
“Intentional careful selection of parking supervisors, greeters, ushers, and worship leaders must be done!”
“Don’t let people box you in!”
“Sabbath needs to be a celebration!”
“We can’t do music just to please older generation.”
“We’ve kept our hymnals but lost our children.”
“Should the church be held hostage over someone picking at the instruments? NO!”
“The Senior Pastor should be involved in decision of what songs we are going to do.”
“Singers sing, preachers preach. Don’t let your singers get up there and think they can preach a sermon or share something they think is just so wonderful. They are there to sing.”
“Don’t let your minister of music say, ‘I am running this (worship). LET’S BE CLEAR, there is ONE leader! If there were multiple leaders in Israel the children would still be slaves in Egypt. God gives the vision of the ministry to the leader and it is not a compromise of your idea and my idea.”
- Musical Programs & Concerts (have had major Gospel singers at their church)
- Block Parties (very much a city and Southern thing)
- Tract attack: Once a quarter each of the elders lead a group out to knock on doors and hand out literature. Seniors at the church call individuals and have prayer bands.
- Service oriented ministries: Health fairs, oil change ministry every Sunday
- Civic Initiatives: civic guests, honor community guests, clean-up of city
- Marketing: Television, Radio, Billboards, Internet
- Bible Workers
“An evangelistic cycle throughout the year with good worship, a friendly environment, and strong leadership will grow.”
“Build database from EVERYTHING done at or through your church. I have over 8,000 names in our database that are not members but have attended one of our events.”
“Send communication by Monday to every visitor within two days of their visit.”
A Bible Workers work six weeks before the evangelistic meetings:
- Week One: They gather one hundred names each day (2 or 3 Bible workers always). “Yes I said 100! They may not always get there, but they can get pretty close by simply knocking on doors to pray with people. And if they don’t try or I don’t see them trying, they don’t get paid. PERIOD!”
- Week Two: Follow-up w/ prayer interests. You’ve been praying for their requests, now you go back to check on those requests and to build further connection.
- Week Three: Follow-up w/ prayer interests & leave Bible Studies 1 & 2
- Week Four: You’ll begin to weed out folk that may not be yet ready to respond. Pick-up Bible lessons 1 & 2. Leave Bible studies 3 & 4
- Week Five: Pick-up studies 3 & 4 conduct some time visiting in the home w/ the Bible studies. Drop off lessons 5 & 6
- Week Six: Conduct home visit drop off studies 7 & 8. Invite to public evangelistic campaign.
“When folk come to our public campaigns and become interested or are baptized they are assigned a Spiritual Guardian. We don’t want to just baptize people, we also want to keep them. We don’t want people going out the back door where we wouldn’t notice, especially in our large church.”
“Singers sing & preachers preach” (seriously he said it again, must be a pet peeve)
Typical length of meetings 2 weeks 5 & 5
I always cover and usually go in this order:
- 2nd Coming
- 1000 Years
- State of the Dead
- Sabbath Change
- Baptism–”I make a baptism appeal and a come to Jesus appeal EVERY night!”
- True Church–Someone asked him about this one and whether or not he thought it was too early to cover some of these topics and this one in particular. “When I was younger I danced around it, I was a little more concerned. But look this stuff is in the Bible and this is who we are, we are the remnant and I don’t want anyone joining our church that doesn’t understand what we believe and why. And besides for a lot of these people it isn’t the first time they heard this message if they have been receiving the studies leading up to the meetings. Some of you might not like that, but that is fine. I’m old enough now (I think he is 38) to not mess around and try to be secretive about stuff.”
“I always then do some special midweek. Why? I don’t want someone that just was convicted of the Sabbath or true church or something like that to then go back to their church and be discouraged from our message. I don’t want them at their old church I want them at Berean!”
“I do two to three public campaigns a year.”
And those are my notes from Pastor Byrd. Some powerful stuff. He is a dynamic individual that beleives 100% in what he is doing and Whom he is serving!